MASA was born out of a love for cooking for our friends. There is nothing better than to be cooked for. And when you are the cook of the house, that rarely happens. So this cook series has two motives: one, to highlight wonderful homemade food by home cooks and two, give us an excuse to eat delicious things without having to lift a finger. Strictly research.
This week I met up with Eli. I’ve known Eli for about 6 years now through a long chain of friends and chance. While studying abroad back in 2008 my cousin put me in contact with a local girl who I rented a room from for a few months, who threw a birthday party and in walked Guille, who I may have kind of forced to be my first local friend and ended up inviting me numerous times into his home where I met his sister Eli. This carrot cake was something I’d heard a lot about from Guille, and when I tried it I understood why, this is some grandma nostalgia in cake form.
How long have you been cooking?
Since I was a little girl I’ve always had fun in the kitchen. Maybe around 10 years old I started hanging around in the kitchen to see what I could do. It was like a game at first, I started out with alfajorcitos de maicena (little cornflour cakes) and other sweets like chocolate chip cookies, and then I started making more savory dishes. Whenever I have the time I cook a nice meal, different sauces and pastas, marinated chicken, hummus.
What food could you eat everyday?
Avocado. I’m an addict, I can eat it at anytime.
The best thing you’ve ever eaten?
That’s a tough one. Like a good Argentine, I love asado (barbecue). My aunt’s husband does incredible asados, and my aunt always prepares delicious salads to go with it. A typical Sunday at their house has to be some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.
Are you more the type that follows or invents recipes?
Generally I break away from a recipe and improve it. I usually am cooking with what I have around and so I usually end up inventing something totally improvised.
Out of all your recipes, why did you choose to teach us your carrot cake?
I really enjoy cooking for other people. It’s mostly my brother, but my friends and cousins also ask for carrot cake, they love it. It’s not really common in Argentine to find a cake made with vegetables and covered in cheese! A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that it’s carrot, people think it’s disgusting without even trying it, so I love to see people try it and surprise themselves.
Now for the recipe:
For the cake you’ll need the following:
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts
- 2 1/2 cups of shredded carrot
- 2 cups of self-rising flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 1 cup of vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
For the frosting you will need the following:
- 4 tablespoons or 50 grams of room temperature butter
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
First preheat the oven to medium temperature. Grease and lightly flour the cake pan. Prep the walnut and carrot. In a large bowl (or preferably in a mixer) beat the eggs until they become foamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until it becomes thick and takes on a clear color. Continue mixing while slowly adding the oil in a slow stream, and finally add the vanilla extract. Add the flour and continue to whisk together until it’s completely mixed. Fold in the shredded carrot and walnuts. Pour batter into cake pan and cook in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes; to check for doneness insert a toothpick or fork into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean it’s ready.
While it cooks prepare the frosting. In a mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter on low until they are completely mixed and without any lumps. Slowly add the powdered sugar and continue to mix until fully incorporated before adding the vanilla.
Take out of the oven and all it to cool completely before cutting in half lengthwise and covering both cakes with frosting.
We enjoyed this cake on Eli’s little patio, while her kittens Martes and Venus played in the bushes before sneaking off into the kitchen. We should have guessed it was to get into the leftover frosting. You can’t really blame them though, I wish I could have a slice of this cake every day. It had just the right texture, the cake gooey and light and the frosting full with the perfect sweetness.